The PM has told EU business leaders he wants to ‘promote a business-friendly agenda’ with Brussels after MPs signed his Brexit trade deal, No 10 said.
The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted to ratify the trade terms last week, in a move that has been delayed due to cross-Channel feuds over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The deal, rejected by Boris Johnson’s government and the EU after months of difficult negotiations, was approved by MEPs by 660 votes to five, with 32 abstentions.
Following the move, Downing Street said Mr Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, in a conference call with companies from the European Industry Roundtable (ERT) on Tuesday afternoon, expressed hope that the move would strengthen trade between Britain and the bloc.
The deal had been in effect on a provisional basis since January 1 but needed MPs approval before it could be ratified.
‘The PM started by outlining the UK’s cautious journey out of lockdown and how it would allow businesses in the UK and the continent to better rebuild and thrive,’ a spokesperson for No 10 said.
“On trade, the discussion focused on how to promote a pro-trade and business-friendly agenda between the UK and the EU.
Video: EU lawmakers strike post-Brexit trade deal with Britain (The Independent)
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“The Prime Minister welcomed the recently ratified EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement and said the UK is an open and welcoming economy, which remains international in its outlook.
“He reaffirmed his desire to see the UK and the EU prosper together and noted that even though the UK is now outside the EU, we remain part of Europe.”
The November Cop26 summit in Glasgow was also discussed on Tuesday, along with the UK’s drive for a ‘cleaner’ economy, No 10 added.
The post-Brexit trade deal prevented no-deal fallout between the UK and the EU after the transition period ended in January, but there have been a number of issues since the new year, with formalities additional administrative procedures and additional customs controls, in particular on fresh products. .
Relations between the UK and the EU were further strained due to the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs new arrangements to prevent a hard border with Ireland and was part of the divorce agreement signed in January of last year.
Much of the disruption and controversy created by the protocol has to do with Britain leaving the single goods market, while Northern Ireland remains in the EU’s regulatory area.
This requires a significant number of documentary checks and physical inspections on agri-food products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
The UK has unilaterally extended grace periods covering areas of the economy, including supermarket supplies and package deliveries to Northern Ireland from Britain, meaning post-Brexit checks are not not yet fully implemented – which has sparked a legal dispute with Brussels.